Chicken Fried Rice

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In this authentic Chicken Fried Rice recipe, you’ll learn:

  • Stir fry secrets to creating flavorful, delicate, authentic Chinese fried rice. No gumminess, no soggy fried rice here!
  • Simple marinade for any type of meat to add to fried rice.
  • Fried rice variations – make your own family favorite!
  • Shortcut to fried rice when you don’t have leftover rice.

Authentic Chinese fried rice is so easy to make….but so easy to get wrong. Oftentimes, those attempting fried rice without learning just a couple simple tricks will end up with a goopy, glue-y, heavy mess. I’ll show you the techniques for a restaurant-worthy, Chinese mom approved, Chicken Fried Rice.

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How to make Chicken Fried Rice

What kind of rice?

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Fried rice is made with leftover rice, that’s been refrigerated (though I’ll show you a shortcut later.) Leftover rice has had a chance to dry out a bit – which is a good thing – because we’re adding ingredients and liquids (soy sauce) that will add moisture back into the rice.

If you used freshly cooked, steaming hot rice – and added more liquids and ingredients, it becomes gummy and sticky.

You can use brown rice, jasmine rice (popular in SE Asia), short-grain rice (popular in Korea and Japan), basmati rice, multi-grain rice. It’s up to you – as long as it’s already cooked and previously refrigerated. When we cook rice, we’ll make a double batch, so that I have extra for fried rice later in the week.

Before you’re ready to make the fried rice, wet your hands and use your fingers to break up the rice grains – so that each rice grain is separate. You can do this with a fork, but it’s easier and faster to just use wet fingers to break up the clumps (rice doesn’t stick that well to wet hands.) If you don’t break up the clumps, you’ll have a really tough time in the wok, trying to break them up with a spatula.

Rice shortcut

Shortcut: If you’re hankering for some fried rice, but don’t have leftover rice, do this:

  1. Cook rice the normal way, but use 25% less water than normal. No need to be exact, just use a little less water.
  2. After rice cooked, open lid immediately, spread out on a baking sheet (or large plate/tray that will fit in freezer.) Let all the steam escape.
  3. Place baking sheet in the freezer, freeze for 30 minutes. Rice is now ready to use for fried rice. If rice completely frozen, you might have to let it sit out on counter for a bit to defrost.

The freezer will dry out the rice grains, just enough to make fried rice. It’s not as good as day-old rice, but it will work in a pinch.

Marinate the chicken

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Marinate your meat, whether you use chicken breast, chicken thigh — or turkey, pork, beef, shrimp — in a little bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch. Optional is to use Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) in the marinade as well. You can marinate the chicken for as little as 5 minutes or up to overnight in refrigerator.

Just a half-pound of meat, cut in very small pieces, like the size of a small dice, will be enough to feed 4 people. We love using a little bit of meat to feed a lot of mouths in Chinese stir-fries!

Why use cornstarch? The cornstarch thickens up the soy sauce so that it clings to the the meat.

Shortcut: use ground chicken, turkey, pork or beef. No slicing needed!

Other ingredients for fried rice

What else do you have in your refrigerator or freezer? We like using frozen peas or frozen diced mixed vegetables (no need to defrost, just use straight from freezer), chopped green onion and eggs. You can use pretty much any vegetable you want:

  • Diced: tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, shallots
  • Leftover: cooked broccoli (just give it a rough chop)
  • Minced garlic or grated fresh ginger
  • Julienned and then roughly chopped: fresh carrots, broccoli stems (peel first), cabbage, Napa cabbage, kale
  • Frozen: peas, diced vegetables
  • Shortcut item: a bag of broccoli slaw mix
  • Eggs

Have all your ingredients ready, at the stove. The stir-frying happens really fast!

Stir fry time

For the best fried rice, ingredients are added to the wok in batches, stir fried, then removed. They’ll be added back into the wok at a later time.

In this recipe, we’ll cook in this order:

  1. Scrambled eggs, then remove
  2. Chicken, then remove
  3. Rice, then add in the eggs, chicken and peas

Why cook things separately? Because I want my eggs to taste like eggs, and my chicken to be perfectly cooked. If you throw everything in the wok all at once, it will taste like a mish-mash of everything. Also, each ingredient has a different perfect cook time – the eggs will cook faster than the chicken – cooking each item separately ensures that nothing is under or over cooked.

First, the green onion and eggs. Swirl a little oil into a hot wok. Throw in the green onions, give it a quick stir for 10 seconds, then add in two eggs. Scramble and cooked just until set, about a minute. Then scoop out onto a plate. (in the photos, we didn’t use green onion.)

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Give the wok a good wipe, no need to rinse.

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If you’re using other fresh vegetables that need to be cooked, do that now. Hot wok + a little oil + vegetable. Stir fry until just cooked through.

Cook the chicken

Heat the wok over high heat. When very hot, swirl in cooking oil. When oil hot, add in the marinated chicken.

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Use your spatula to spread out the chicken into a single layer in the wok. Use all that surface area! Keeping the chicken in a single layer helps the chicken caramelize and cook nicely. Crowded chicken will result in little browning – the chicken will end up “steaming” instead of browning. Once it’s in the wok, just leave it alone and give it time and space to brown.

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Resist the temptation to mess with the chicken – just leave it alone. When you move the chicken around too much, it won’t have time to brown.

Take a peek under piece of chicken. Browned? Now flip, stir and toss!

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Then spread out on wok again. Let’s let the other sides of the chicken brown.

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Once chicken is nearly cooked through, turn off heat and remove chicken. If the chicken is only 80% of the way cooked through, that’s perfect. We’ll add the chicken back into the wok later to finish cooking. It’s important that you don’t overcook the meat.

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Add the rice

Wipe the wok clean, if desired. Heat the wok again, on high and swirl a little more cooking oil in the wok. When hot, add in the rice.

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Spread it all around the surface area of the wok, Use all that space! Spreading out the rice will help each grain of rice heat up all the way through. Just let it sit in the wok, undisturbed for a bit. If you keep stirring and tossing the rice, it won’t have a chance to heat through. And, you’ll be breaking the delicate grains of rice, releasing more starch, making a gummy mess. So, it’s best to just let it be for a minute. Then, toss, stir and spread out again to warm through.

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Finally, it’s time to add back in the ingredients. Add the chicken:

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scrambled eggs:

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Frozen peas (they’re still frozen, but will defrost perfectly at the end.)

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Give it a toss:

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Season with the soy sauce, black pepper and a little oyster sauce, if desired. Oyster sauce will add a little sweet/savory flavor to the fried rice. Personally, I love adding fish sauce, in addition to the soy sauce. It adds a ton of umami flavor without weighing down the fried rice.

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Toss, spread out over the surface of the wok. The egg will finish setting, the chicken will finish cooking, the peas will defrost, and the liquid seasoning will help re-steam the rice. Toss again, spread out again. This action will also help the fried rice cook/heat through evenly.

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Once the rice is hot – it’s done!

Note on the wok

We were testing out the lightweight cast iron wok from IMUSA, the makers of global cookware. It’s a 14″ wok with a flat bottom (great for both electric and gas stoves). The outer surface is coated, so it won’t scratch your counters or electric stovetop. The inside is lightweight cast iron.

We really like this wok. Our favorite cooking surface for woks is lightweight cast iron – having the benefits of cast iron (heat retention, seasons beautifully) without the weight of traditional cast iron (think grandma’s heavy cast iron skillet.) Light cast iron also heats faster (it’s not as thick) and responds well when you change heat level.

Here what I think could be improved on the wok:

Does not include lid. We use the lid for wokking a lot! Fortunately, I have a lid from another wok, it fits perfectly. Lids are used in steaming, sautéing, braising, simmering, boiling. I think all woks should come with a lid!

Even though it’s lightweight cast iron, it’s still heavy at just under 4 1/2 pounds. This action is difficult:

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With 2 hands, the wok, is manageable. With only one hand, I’m wobbly and need to rest the wok on something just to take some of that weight off my hands and wrist.

Despite the above, I still recommend this wok! Easy to use, easy to clean. We love the shape of the wok – large diameter and deep bowl. The deep bowl shape makes it easy to stir fry without spilling anything. My Mom likes it too – she asked if I could give her this wok (of course, Mom!) Mom is big fan of light cast iron as well. You can buy this wok at Target for $29.99.

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Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

Servings: 4 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes
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If you don't have a wok, use a large saute pan (like a frying pan, but with high sides) or even a large dutch oven. You need the high sides in a stir fry - so that ingredients don't spill out as you toss. Feel free to substitute the chicken with pork, turkey or beef. I also like using ground meat too.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound chicken meat, small dice
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry) - optional
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 stalk green onion, chopped
2 eggs
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups leftover rice, grains separated (use wet fingers)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or 1 teaspoon fish sauce)
cooking oil (canola, peanut, vegetable)

Directions:

1. In a bowl, add in the chicken, just 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine and sesame oil. Stir and let marinate while you proceed to next step.
2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in about 2 teaspoons of cooking oil. Add in the egg and scramble until the egg is just barely set. Remove egg to plate. Wipe wok clean.
3. Return wok to stove, turn heat to high. When hot, swirl in a little more cooking oil. Add in the marinated chicken and spread out all over the surface of the wok in single layer. Let cook for 1 minute, undisturbed. Flip and toss, spread out again and let cook for another minute. By now, the chicken should be nearly cooked through (depends on how big your chicken pieces are). Remove from wok.
4. Return wok to high heat. When hot, swirl in a little more cooking oil, about 1 tablespoon. Add in the rice. Spread out over surface of wok and let cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Flip and toss, spread out again, let cook for 1 minute.
5. Add back into the wok, the chicken and eggs. Add in the frozen peas. Give it a good toss. Add in the remaining soy sauce, oyster sauce (or fish sauce) and freshly ground black pepper. Toss again and spread rice out over surface of wok. Let cook, 1 minute. Toss very well, spread out and cook for an additional minute. Taste the fried rice, and adjust with more soy sauce, if desired. Fried rice is ready when each grain of rice is heated through and hot, and the chicken is cooked through.

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Comments 28

  1. Laura ~ RYG

    This fried rice and chicken just looks smashingly delicious! Mouth-watering to the extreme. Peas are my favorite add-on for fried rice. They add just the right pop of green. Plus, I do love the scrambled egg aspect. Tasty. I don’t like going out for Chinese fried rice because the fast-food joints LOAD it up in oil. Yuck. Our premier grocery store makes a nice variety, but it’s $10 bucks a pound. That’s highway robbery right there. So making it at home sounds like a fantastic idea to me! Thanks.

    1. Deb Tozzi

      The beautiful thing about fried rice is you can add what you want. I used to love takeout, but with Jaden’s recipe, you can make it taste just like takeout but improvise on the veggies. I often put shitake mushrooms in along with peas. tomorrow I have chopped napa cabbage that I will be adding. This recipe is so authentic that it is easy enough to add extra veggies – cabbage, spinach, carrot dice……and still have a takeout quality fried rice………I would much rather make it myself…….

  2. Ashley

    Do you happen to have a wok you would recommend over all others? I’m really in the market to get a new one so was curious. 🙂
    Unfortunately there are quite a few reviews on this IMUSA one that the coating starts to come off after just a few uses, so I’m hesitant to go with that one…

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      1. Gail

        I have a similar question as Ashley and my stovetop is induction, so I can’t use the aluminum wok that I received as a wedding present. Do you have any recommendations for me? Thank you!

      2. Bill

        Jaden — Could you confirm whether the wok is IMUSA or Joyce Chen? I do not see any light cast iron woks on IMUSA’s website.

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          1. Bill

            Jaden — thank you for the link — I suspect thetwo brands come out of the same factory with different colored handles! I just ordered one thru Target (one line only) at the price you mentioned. JCP current has them on sale with and additional 20% off coupon (thru the 9th) — ends up just over $30 — In my case – Target is 1 mile away vs JCP at 10.

    2. Bill

      Re Ashley:
      Jaden states re the wok: “The outer surface is coated, so it won’t scratch your counters or electric stovetop. The inside is lightweight cast iron,has a coating on the outside and that the inside needs to be seasoned.”

      The wok appears to be the Joyce Chen 23-0001 wok available from Amazon — the interior is “pre-seasoned” which needs to be seasoned and kept oiled.

      Here is a link with a lot of wok info:

      http://foodal.com/kitchen/pots-pots-skillets-guides-reviews/guides/how-to-choose-the-best-wok/

  3. Shirley B.

    Great tutorial Jaden! Instructions are clear, pictures are great and I love that you tell us WHY each action is important. Hmmm, now I’m hungry for fried rice!

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Thank you for the heads up on the wok — I’ve been wanting one for a long time. I think I’ll go on Amazon and put it on my wish list. The recipe looks and sounds delicious – we’ve been making fried rice of a long time but we are going to do your method. Thank you for sharing, Jaden!!

  5. Robin Forman

    Hi Jaden…..what are your thoughts on using leftover pork shoulder roast or Char Siu in fried rice? Would you still suggest a light marinade?
    RF

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      Jaden

      Robin – Char Siu would be perfect – if it’s already marinated and cooked, I would add in the cooked, diced meat same time as I add the egg. If the cooked pork needed just a little more flavor, I would give it a few splashes of soy sauce and a tiny bit of sesame oil. Heat wok to high, swirl in a bit of cooking oil. When hot, add pork and let sear for just a few seconds on each side. Then remove. So, instead of cooking the pork, you’re just searing it and using the soy sauce to help you caramelize.

  6. Lyn

    Great directions….Even though I’ve been making fried rice for years your instructions make a lot of sense…Hopefully my fried rice now will even be better…thanks

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  7. eduardo do nascimento dias

    Thank you again. This recipe looks easy to make and delicious.
    What if I garnish it with some scallions?

    Thanks again.

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  8. chibiharuka

    Your fried rice looks amazing. I love your details and tips, and look forward to using them to hopefully perfect my fried rice recipe!

  9. Jasmine

    Thanks, Jaden for the post. I love fried rice. Now, I can step up my fried rice to a higher standard. Thanks, again.

  10. vern Yamane

    Like your tip of cooking ingredients separate and adding less water to rice. I am from Hawaii and have some pinterest boards ~some on 50 State Island Dishes.
    Please check out my pins. “FOOD- xxxxx” We are a mixing pot of people and foods. https://www.pinterest.com/hulainwa/boards/
    mahalo!

  11. Gary

    Hi Jaden,
    Great recipe and instructions. Cooking and trying different things is my passion. I’m working on setting up my own site.
    My friends 6 yr old said she wouldn’t like it….to her mums amazement she had two bowls and announced it was the best!! (left off the onions)
    There was no glugginess and a clean beautiful taste treat.
    Beautiful….thank you
    Gary

  12. Monica @ Wok Like Me

    Love your bowls! One of my favorite fried rice tricks I learned here in China is making a donut-shaped hole in your rice that’s in your wok, and then cracking your eggs directly into it. Saves a ton of time, as the Chinese don’t beat the eggs fully before adding to the rice.

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